When my husband Jayson and I first had the ultrasound that revealed we were expecting quintuplets, we were beyond shocked! We had been taking fertility drugs, and the doctor had told us that there was a 20 percent chance of twins and a 5 percent chance of triplets. The odds of having quints when taking the drugs was 1 in 56,000, so we were definitely not prepared for the news. We were terrified!
Even still, we didn’t agree with our doctor when he immediately began encouraging us to reduce the pregnancy by aborting three of the fetuses. He told us the odds of delivering healthy quintuplets were not good. For two weeks we despaired over the decision, and every doctor I talked to urged me to reduce. But in my heart I knew that I could not live with myself if I did that. Finally, after much prayer, I felt like I received a confirmation from God that keeping the babies was the right thing to do. From that point on, I felt confident – not necessarily that everything would turn out perfect, but that I was doing the right thing and that I would be able to handle the challenges that lay ahead.
I found a doctor in Phoenix who was phenomenal. He had a fantastic track record with high-order multiples, and he had such a positive attitude! He also shared the statistics with me, but he then told me all the ways that we would try to make sure that my pregnancy had a positive outcome. I ended up flying out to Phoenix for the second half of my pregnancy and to deliver the babies because he was so much better than all of the doctors in the Austin area where we live. I made it all the way to 34 weeks gestation (the average for quints is less than 28 weeks), and my babies were healthy … the heaviest set of quintuplets ever born. (I am grateful every day that I did not listen to the doctors that told me to reduce.)
Extra Sets of Arms
After the babies were born, we quickly realized that we knew nothing about raising multiples. As a child, you always think that it would be fun to have twins, but after having our first baby, I realized how hard being a parent is, and I honestly never wanted multiples. Fortunately I was able to connect to some other moms who had quads and quints and get their advice. I also joined MOST (Mothers of Supertwins), which put me in contact with other mothers of triplets and more.
For the first eight months, we had volunteers almost around the clock. The volunteers came mostly from our church congregation, and they were amazing! By the time the quints were 1 year old, I could handle things mostly on my own; however, I did have a couple of friends who would come over once a week for five hours to stay with the kids while I ran errands. My mom was also really supportive and came out to help about 10 days of every month during the first year and every other month for the second year. Since then, we have adopted one of the volunteers as another grandma. She is truly part of our family, and she still helps me today whenever I need it.
The Cost of Raising a Baby. Times 5!
Obviously, raising quints is not cheap. We have seven total children, and every year it becomes less and less affordable! Multiples are particularly expensive – when you have one baby at a time, you can reuse and hand down things like cribs, high chairs, clothes, car seats, bikes, etc. But when you have five the same age, you need five of everything all at the same time. The first year we were fortunate to receive a few donations. We did get free formula for the first year, which was extremely helpful, since the quints were preemies and required a special, more expensive formula. Contrary to popular belief, diaper companies do not donate anything, and the government doesn’t do anything other than the standard tax deduction for children that all people get. Now that the quints are 7 years old, they want to be involved in sports, music lessons and other activities, and they also eat more and cost more to transport and cloth!
I will say that the most difficult part of raising seven kids is finding time to spend with each of them individually. I often feel like I am being pulled in multiple directions, and I always want my kids to know that I love each one of them.
I am constantly on the go, and I rarely have time for myself. I teach statistics at Austin Community College, mostly as a way to supplement our income to pay for the ever-increasing costs of raising a large family. But I also enjoy teaching, and I enjoy getting a break from the household routine. Some of my other hobbies include photography and home decorating, and I try to squeeze those in whenever I can.
Raising quints can be hard on a marriage, and Jayson and I learned early on that it would either pull us apart or bring us closer together. We know of too many high-order multiple families who have ended up divorced, and we knew from the beginning that we did not want that. We place a high priority on our marriage and know that the best thing for our kids is for their parents to love and honor each other. It is tricky finding time for each other, especially as our kids get older, but facing the challenges of raising seven children has truly brought us closer together.
Extra Love to Go Around
By far, the best part about having such a large family is all the extra love! Having quints means we have five times the homework, five times the noise and five times the mess, but we also have five times the laughter, five times the hugs and five times the fun! We’ve filmed a couple of shows for TLC (“Multitude of Multiples” and “Texas Quints”), and we agreed to do them because we want others to see that having a large family is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun. There are so many unique, wonderful things that go along with having multiples and a large family that they definitely outweigh the bad things. Knowing myself and my personality, I know that I would not have had seven kids if I had had them one at a time, but now that I do have them, I love it, and I can’t imagine my life without even one of them. When we take the family out in public, we sometimes get comments like “Oh, I am so sorry for you,” or “Better you than me,” and I just want to tell these people – You have no idea what great things you are missing out on!
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